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Everything You Need to Know About a Home Appraisal Process

Colin Steen from Honor Appraisal joined us on the podcast to walk us through the home appraisal process. 

Listen to the full episode on Spotify or iTunes. Make sure to follow us to be the first to know when we post a new podcast!

How does the appraisal process work?

When I go to somebody’s home, they don’t know what to expect or how much cleaning up they should be doing. I always tell people, please don’t spend time cleaning because I’m looking at the structure of the home. 

I want to see how many bedrooms and bathrooms they have and the overall condition and quality of the home. That’s going to give me a good indication of the comparable sales that I’ll select to help put an opinion of value on their place. 

Whether you’re purchasing or it’s a refinance, appraisers look at it as if this house was going to go on the market. In today’s market, what do other homes go for? The things that would be left behind like your flooring, trim, cabinets, and countertops are the things that we’re looking for in an appraisal. 


We schedule a time for the home appraisal and the process doesn’t take long when I get there. With technology nowadays, we do a lot of prep work. I’m able to obtain everything on the subject property from the county ahead of time. I’m going to know the basic specs of the home, the legal description, the lot size, the age of the home, make sure that the basement wasn’t flooded, and the overall condition of the house.

How does it conveniently turn out that the appraised value of the houses is pretty similar to what you guys come back with?

As appraisers, it’s our opinion of value on your home. My opinion could be different from another appraiser’s opinion. I also need data to back up my opinion.

When looking at a purchase, part of our job is to analyze the purchase agreement. I know you’re buying this home for $300,000. As I’m doing my comparable sales search, if I’m finding comparable sales say $295,000 and some for $305-310,000. I can see why both sides agree to pay $300,000. 


If an appraiser is doing his or her job, and there are obviously comps that are either higher or lower than that, appraisers should come in higher or lower. 

What updates could I make to my house to increase the opinion of the value of my house?

Landscaping and the curb appeal is a vital component of a home. Upgrading to granite countertops or remodeling your bathroom to have a custom walk-in tiled shower in the master bath, those things are going to help with the value of your home. 

The biggest difference is how much you spend on those to actually improve it, are you actually going to get that back at the end of the day? When I’m looking at your home, I’m comparing it to another home that just sold. If I’m making any adjustments on that comparable sale, I have to be able to prove there’s something different on your home where I can justify making a positive or negative adjustment.

Improvements that usually get dollar for dollar back are remodeled kitchens, bathrooms, finished basements, and upgraded flooring. Adding a legal bedroom in a basement is also beneficial. Now you can market your home as a four-bedroom home. 

What is all considered during an inspection?

In addition to the inside of your home, we’re looking at the neighborhood, if there’s heavy traffic commercial right behind you, I’m taking that into consideration. I’m looking at the curb appeal of not only your place but also the homes around you, possibly businesses around you, or any other external factors that may play a part in affecting any kind of value on your home. 

How long does the inspection take?


It varies. It doesn’t have to take very long, especially if, the homeowners have given me a list of improvements that they’ve recently done. The other part is taking measurements on the exterior of the home. We’re just looking at the exterior square footage of your home. 

How long until I get the appraisal back? Do I get a copy of it?

Since interest rates took a dive and I think everybody in the Sioux Falls area has refinanced, we’ve been bombarded with orders this year. 

Every time I get an order, they always give me a due date. I do my best to never miss that due date because I know that lines up with when they’re trying to close the loan.

Right now, I’m at two to three weeks for turnaround time. I have to first give it to the credit union and then the clients get a copy of it as well.

What happens once the appraisal comes back?

Once I hand it over to the credit union, it’s out of my hands. There may be questions that the credit union or the borrower may have. I enjoy going over those things because there’s a lot of data in there. Again, this is our opinion, it’s not the end-all and in three to six months, it could change dramatically. 

Let us assist you with your home journey. We’re here to help you buy and refinance your home! Start online or give us a call at 605.338.2533.